Called to Abundance

People with a scarcity mentality tend to see everything in terms of win/lose.  There is only so much, and if someone else has it, that means there will be less for me.  The more principle-centered we become, the more we develop an abundance mentality, the more we are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition and good fortune of other people.  We believe their success adds to — rather than detracts from — our lives.
— leadership consultant Stephen Covey

Long before I became a driver myself I noticed something curious about driving: red lights are far more memorable than green lights.  Trying to make an appointment at a particular time, every red light adds to the anxiety that we’ll be late.  As for green lights, well, they all ought to be green when we’re trying to get somewhere on time, shouldn’t they?

It’s easy to adopt a “scarcity mentality” when it comes to our time, as well as to finite goods such as food and material possessions, not to mention money that is, after all, a surrogate for every other commodity, tangible or not.  It’s easy to get into that competitive frame of mind, that if someone else has more — wealth, respect, power, friends, shiny stuff — then there must be less of it for the rest of us.

Churches can fall into that competitive way of thinking, too.  We can look at the local population and talk about increasing our “market share”, as if the complicated people looking for comfort, community and transformation are merely customers to be enticed by billboards and bumper stickers.  Once we embrace the perspective that churches serve many more people than their own members, however, then interfaith cooperation becomes possible regardless of theological differences, as is the case for many of our outreach efforts including the Living Interfaith Network (or LINK) of Hampton Roads and the meal programs at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Now the Fellowship’s big news right now is that we’ve been growing!  The Sanctuary has often seemed filled to capacity on Sunday mornings, our children and youth are growing (and not just in faith!) before our eyes, and we have some great new programs going on during the week and on the weekends as well.  Our annual membership reports to the Unitarian Universalist Association over the last few years show that not only did we pass the 150-member mark, we burst through it!

Does this mean we’re in competition with our neighboring Unitarian Universalist congregations in Williamsburg and Norfolk?  A scarcity mentality might say yes, that there are only so many prospective UUs to go around.  An abundance mentality on the other hand would note that Unitarian Universalism in Virginia as a whole has been growing, and that growth here on the Peninsula helps our faith in other parts of the 757 area code, too.  Our efforts to change lives and to transform society will be multiplied in their effectiveness as our congregations grow together.  A scarcity mentality would hardly have permitted February’s Hampton Roads UU Revival!

Al Smith

William Alfred “Al” Smith
(1931-2011)

And we’ve only scratched the surface of our potential for transformation.  A couple of Decembers ago the Daily Press included an obituary for William Alfred Smith, who lived and for most of his life served as a lawyer in Hampton, often fighting for civil rights and racial equality.  Though you wouldn’t have known it from his obituary, this was the same Al Smith who was part of the newly chartered Fellowship in 1959 and who challenged society’s bigotry by bringing mostly white teenagers down the street to his law offices for religious education classes.  Al planted the seeds of love and justice for an abundant future, a future that still calls us to help bring to life today.

How are you answering that call?  How are you moved to help grow the Beloved Community that offers life abundant to everyone?  And how is our Fellowship changing your life?  I look forward to hearing your answers to these questions.

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